Saut-'d'Eau is a sacred waterfall in the mountains North of Port-au-Prince where Haitians make an annual pilgrimage to cleanse themselves of negativity and pray for blessings. It happens once a year for three days in honor of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel who is also syncretized with the voudou spirit Erzulie. As such it attracts many Haitians, both christian and voudou as well as those who practice both faiths.
The site's sacredness is due to legend that has it that in 1847, the virgin Mary appeared in a palm tree at the waterfall. A French catholic priest at the time cut down the tree in order to discourage superstitious beliefs by the people. He mysteriously died some days later, confirming the belief in the local Haitian people that the Virgin Mary was there and he had angered her.
Aside from this initial event of disrespect of the French priest, this place is used a place for healing, cleansing, renewal of spirit energy and good luck. Pilgrims visit come anytime but the main time folks come is during the Festival of Our Lady of Mount Carmel for three days in July. At that time thousands of devotees come and cleanse themselves in the sacred and purifying waters of Sodo (The Creole name for the waterfall.) Voudou devotess pray to Erzulie Danto.
At the site are various shrines for the various lwa, the Haitian voudou spirits, such as Legba, Dambala Wedo and Erzulie Dantor. People come from near and far believing the waters to have special healing and purifying properties.
While there I gave offerings to Legba, Dambala Wedo, Erzulie Dantor and also bathed in the waterfall myself to get my own blessings. The water was cold but refreshing. People were bathing all around me all in deep thought and devotion. They were serious in their conviction that this place was sacred. I felt it.
In Nigeria we have river goddess Oshun. In Haiti there is Erzulie Dantor. They both water spirits with different personalities yet there are some similarities.
#Haiti #Pilgrimage #SacredForest #SacredWaterfall #Cleansing